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Roster breakdown: Analyzing the 54

Posted Aug 30, 2014

Senior writer John Oehser breaks down the Jaguars’ 54-man roster as it stands at Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline.


JACKSONVILLE – So, things are set – for now, anyway.

The Jaguars on Saturday made four moves to get the roster to the league-mandated 53 by the league-mandated deadline, releasing wide receiver Kerry Taylor, linebacker Nate Stupar, safety Sherrod Martin and cornerback Jamell Fleming after making 18 moves Friday afternoon.

The roster is currently at 54, with an exemption for wide receiver Ace Sanders, who is serving a four-game suspension to start the regular season.

The term “final 53,” though used routinely in NFL circles, in truth is a bit of a misnomer. NFL rosters change by the week and waiver-wire acquisitions for the Jaguars are possible Sunday, although General Manager David Caldwell said Saturday there likely would be no more than one or two.

Still, for the purposes of taking a look at what’s pretty close to the Jaguars’ final roster, we’ll call the version of the roster that existed at 4 p.m. Saturday “The Final 54” and analyze it as such on a position-by-position basis:

 

Quarterbacks (2)

Chad Henne, Blake Bortles

Breakdown: Henne will start, and Bortles will back him up. The team released Ricky Stanzi and Stephen Morris Friday, with Caldwell saying on Saturday that injuries and the Jaguars’ feelings about players at other spots caused them to be a little short at quarterback. The team will try to sign Morris to the practice squad Sunday. That seems like a sensible fit. Morris played two seasons for Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch at the University of Miami and knows this offense.

 

Running backs (5)

Toby Gerhart, Denard Robinson, Jordan Todman, Storm Johnson, Will Ta'ufo'ou (fullback)

Breakdown: Gerhart will start, and Robinson made serious strides in the preseason. Exact roles behind Gerhart aren’t yet clear, and it seems unlikely all three reserves will be active on game day.

 

Wide receiver (5)

Cecil Shorts III, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, Mike Brown, Ace Sanders (roster exemption)

Breakdown: Shorts and Lee appear likely to start, and Lee has shown serious flashes. Tandon Doss’ ankle injury and subsequent move to injured reserve helped the always reliable Brown secure a roster spot, and by the preseason’s end, Hurns had gone from free-agent-rookie-feel-good story to being a lock for making the team. Caldwell on Saturday said Robinson – who did not play in the preseason because of a hamstring injury – could be ready for a limited role in the regular-season opener. This is a young group, with Shorts in his fourth season, Brown in his second and the rest rookies, but it’s a talented one that will be helped by the presence of wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. The team could look for punt return help short-term until Sanders returns in Week 5.

 

Tight end (3)

Marcedes Lewis, Clay Harbor, Marcel Jensen

Breakdown: On paper, this is a thin position, with Lewis an elite-level talent, but with Harbor coming off a preseason calf injury and Jensen a free-agent rookie. A waiver-wire acquisition here wouldn’t be surprising.

 

Offensive line (10)

Luke Joeckel (left tackle), Zane Beadles (left guard), Luke Bowanko (center), Brandon Linder (right guard), Austin Pasztor (right tackle), Cameron Bradfield (offensive tackle), Jacques McClendon (guard/center), Josh Wells (offensive tackle), Sam Young (offensive tackle), Tyler Shatley (offensive guard).

Breakdown: Bowanko appears likely to start the regular season alongside Linder, meaning rookies could start at right guard and center. That’s in keeping with a very youthful theme for this group, with Beadles being the only player with more than three seasons worth of starts. Bradfield will start at right tackle to start the season in place of Pasztor (hand), and McClendon appears to be the swing center/guard behind the three interior starters. Wells and Shatley made the team as rookie free agents, meaning four rookie offensive linemen – Bowanko, Linger, Wells and Shatley – are on the roster.

 

Defensive ends (6)

Chris Clemons (Leo), Red Bryant (five technique), Andre Branch (Leo), Ryan Davis (Leo), Chris Smith (Leo), Tyson Alualu (five technique)

Breakdown: The Jaguars kept 10 defensive linemen and Caldwell said Saturday that’s a reflection of how much the team liked all 10 players. Clemons and Bryant will start the season, but Alualu may have had his best training camp behind Bryant at the five-technique. Clemons will start at Leo, but look for Branch and Davis to play extensively in the team’s Leo-based lightning pass-rushing package. Davis has been particularly impressive in the preseason.

 

Defensive tackles (4)

Roy Miller, Sen’Derrick Marks, Ziggy Hood, Abry Jones

Breakdown: The Jaguars feel good about this area, with Miller playing well after rehabilitating from offseason shoulder surgery and Marks appearing to be at a higher level than his high level of last season. Hood gives the team depth and rush ability inside and the versatile Jones played as well as any Jaguars backup lineman at times during the preseason.

 

Linebacker (6)

Geno Hayes (weakside), Paul Posluszny (middle), LaRoy Reynolds (Otto), Telvin Smith (weakside), J.T. Thomas (middle), Dekoda Watson (Otto)

Breakdown: Hayes and Posluszny will start the season, and Reynolds/Watson will be a question for early in the week. Reynolds started and played well in the preseason, but Watson is nearing full health after missing the offseason and two preseason games with a sports hernia issue. Smith, a rookie, has impressed with his speed and is starting in the team’s nickel defense package, with Thomas making the final roster because of his ability to play effectively inside and outside.

 

Cornerbacks (5)

Alan Ball, Dwayne Gratz, Will Blackmon, Jeremy Harris, Demetrius McCray

Breakdown: Ball will start alongside Gratz, with Blackmon playing the nickel. The Jaguars released Jamell Fleming Saturday, ensuring that a pair of 2013 draft selections – McCray and Harris – remain on the roster. McCray and Harris were impressive at times in training camp, showing improvement from last season. Rookie free-agent Rashaad Reynolds, who impressed as a backup nickel, was placed on injured reserve with a hand injury on Friday.

 

Safeties(4)

Johnathan Cyprien, Winston Guy, Josh Evans, Chris Prosinski

Cyprien and Guy will start at strong and free safety, respectively, with Evans making the team after starting the preseason third on the depth chart. Prosinski, in his fourth season, is the veteran of the bunch. Caldwell on Saturday lauded the reliable Prosinski, calling him one of the team’s best special teams players and saying he had improved his tackling significantly in the offseason.

 

Special teams (3)

Bryan Anger (P), Josh Scobee (K), Carson Tinker (LS)

Breakdown: Anger will punt, Scobee will kick and Tinker will long snap. That’s how it was last season and so it shall be once again. One area to watch this week: Scobee’s quad. He missed the preseason finale, and although Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said after the preseason finale he expects Scobee to play against Philadelphia, it’s an issue that could go late into the week. If so, Caldwell said the team has several kickers in mind to evaluate on a tryout basis.

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